Monday, April 02, 2012

No justice for workers

David Renton, in today's Morning Star, uses the occasion of the Coalition's latest attacks on workers' rights to expose the weakness of the employment tribunals as a means of obtaining justice for workers (

As well as itemising the pitiful median levels of compensation awarded to workers found to have been treated unlawfully by employers, he makes the point that the extreme rarity of orders for reinstatement has had a knock on effect on the chances of success at in-house appeals against dismissal.

This certainly reflects my experience as a lay trade union representative in local government. As recently as twenty years ago, appeals against dismissal, heard by Panels of Councillors, were successful about half the time. Now reinstatement (by a panel of senior managers) is a rarity.

The legal rights which the Coalition are pledged to undermine were built in the first place on the foundations of workplace trade union organisation. Employers, and Governments, conceded some limited rights to be treated fairly at work because our movement was strong.

The waning of justice at work has coincided with declining union density and organisation (except of course that it's not a coincidence).

It's that workplace organisation which we need to rebuild if we are going to resist the "hire and fire" workplace culture which the Government of Millionaires are seeking to foist on the millions.

We will, however, need to consider how we deal with the challenge of up front charges for lodging tribunal complaints. If a union backs a claim, believing it likely to succeed, workers will expect help to jump this new financial hurdle - and if we want to rebuild membership and organisation we need to deliver the goods when it comes to representation.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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